Thursday, January 18, 2018

Healing Scars from the Past

Both Catholic Weeklies remembered the 70th year of 
the Jejudo uprising, an insurgency that brought about the death of over 30 thousand on Jejudo island from April 3, in 1948 to Sept. 21, 1954. A tragic event whcih many citizens have never heard mentioned because it was hidden in Korean history.

Japanese colonial rule which lasted from 1910  to 1945 came to an end when the United States and the Soviet Union liberated Korea. August 15, is National Liberation Day in both the North and South. Since Japan unconditionally surrendered, Korea was divided between the United States and the Soviet Union. Unable to agree on joint trusteeship, Korea was divided between Russia and the United States: Communist Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the North and the West aligned, First Republic of Korea in the South.

The First Republic was established on August 15, 1948, with Syngman Rhee as the first president. This was done independently and the leftist elements in society began to oppose the First Republic and those on the right, in opposition, gave rise to the death of large numbers of innocent law abiding citizens. We know from history that these kinds of incidents don't just happen overnight but were fermenting over many years.

After liberation, the sympathetic pro-Japanese security forces with the help of the American military administration began to use military force against the citizens which was the beginning of the 4:3 killings. This continued even after the Korean War ended. This reality and that so few know about it is no small matter.

Because of the different ideologies involved the examination and review of history is not a simple task and the divergent opinions are many but the events should be known and efforts to resolve the anger found.

The diocese of Jejudo has formed a committee to find ways to approach the issue pastorally. The anger that remains in the minds and hearts of many is not limited to the local area but is present  throughout the country.  The left-right divide has been a reality in Korea for many years previous to the Korean war and after.

When we search for justice and truth all things work together for peace. We have not as yet arrived at a point where we have taken care of the justice issues facing the country and consequently the lack of peace within society.

The aim of the Committee which is composed of 13 members is after 70 years to bring forgiveness and reconciliation for the pain and scars inflicted during those many years. It is not to place blame but to have a win-win approach to the issues that continue  over the years. This is the object of the committee, to find a true peace and healing. Expressed in the  many events during this period and ending with the April 1st to 7th, a commemorative  week after Easter, hoping for a new beginning.

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